Finalists Of Our Textile Challenge

Stephanie Steele Thursday, 1 October 2020

A couple of months ago we launched a challenge asking you to design a garment, outfit or accessory with a neutral fabric that in some way had embellishment or print. There is an authenticity with neutral fabrics, like plain weave handloom or cream satin, for the wearer and for the textile itself - you can't hide. So we wanted to see your vision for working to create something fantastic from a neutral fabric, and then our favourites were to receive the actual fabric in order to realise their design in actuality.

Read on to see our finalists.


Björn Eriksson

For the challenge, Björn designed a shirt and shorts outfit that was modular for easy disassembly and alterations, as well as being dyed with some unusual ingredients.

"They attempt to be sustainable as they have adjustable fits that can adapt as a person's body might change, and thus would make buying new size clothes when gaining or losing weight or having a posture that changes, unnecessary. Furthermore, they do not use buttons or zippers for closures and would be made from mono materials, making them easily recyclable."

"I would dye them into the intended yellow using natural dyeing with turmeric, and the grey would be provided through black rice."

The shirt is to be made from our Organic White Mediumweight Basket Weave Cotton and the shorts made from Fair Trade White Denim, sewn with organic cotton thread for true monomateriality.

Follow Björn's design practice on Instagram @studiobjorn

Georgia Baptist

Georgia's entry was a delight to behold; such an entirely different concept to Björn's, that takes traditional techniques and materials to recreate a historical set of garments. Georgia's sewing is a hobby, and this semester she set off to Oxford to start a History Degree. The research for this entry was unbelievably in-depth, and there's a clear passion for the story behind textiles, from the raw fibre to the life cycle. Have a look at the images to dive deeper.

"One of the things that really drew me to a historical theme is that when we study extant garments, it's possible to see unpicked seams or piece garments, which demonstrate how clothing was handed down and reused."

Due to the amount of materials involved with this outfit, we couldn't fulfil it all (just because we couldn't choose just one "winner"), so we gifted Georgia the organic lightweight basketweave cotton for the Pierrot jacket that would be block printed and have a ruched trim, and also a remnant of undyed organic cotton batiste for the lining.

"I was also glad to hear you mention that this can be a project that doesn’t have to be quick. What I mean by this is that I think it may take me some time, given I’m planning to sew it accurately (i.e. by hand)."

Clare Seal

Again, a completely different entry, this time using our recycled polyester satin to create a zero waste wrap skrit for the beach. And again, amazing effort into the research and presentation - those maquettes and magazine cut outs!! There was so much going on in this entry that we couldn't fulfill all of the requirements - for instance the bathing suit as well as the skirt and the robe (which was rPET lined in milk jersey, how cosy and durable!) but we are so looking forward to seeing the outcome of that unique print based on the bottom of a plastic bottle; it's just so considered in the theme and function.

All of these entries are conversation starters, and that's what we had hoped to achieve with this challenge. That textiles don't need to be this thing that make everything else stand out, but they can be the story in and off themselves.

These entries below we ended up not having the specific fabric for (it had ran out since the challenge was posted, or our fabric selection wasn't quite adhered to). Yet, we wanted to share for the varied ideas and action behind them.

Su Morris

This is the moodboard from the kids and teenagers that are in the @camschoolsecocouncil who organise the monthly School Strike protest. It shows screenprinted denim fabric featuring the portrait of a well-known Cambridge University alumni, Charles Darwin, and one of his quotes. Except, the quote has been updated to reflect why the kids are striking from school. Each individual denim patch can then be customised by the kids' themselves to make each patch unique, and to reflect why the children want to protect their futures.

Suzanne is a designer, photographer, environmental activist and mum. It was actually her project with screenprinting fabric a little earlier in lockdown that got us considering the stories inherent within textiles, and how we can enhance them to make a point. Things became difficult, so we're waiting to hear on whether they still want to trial some fabric, like the white denim or undyed twill. We absolutely loved that the screenprints can be further embellished according to the childrens' hopes, and placed wherever on their bodies or accessories - actually a very simple way to upgrade branded tote bags with new messages.

Find Suzanne on Instagram here @visualsumo

Vanessa Wills

This one is a stunning bridal gown that had we the fabric spare, would love to have seen that magnificent hand-painted floral pattern all over. If anyone fancied funding this, it would be one magnificent exploration of luxury. Vanessa described it as,

"A strapless, boned bodice with lace-up corset style upper back (3 loops and buttons at the base). This is constructed of White Organza and lined in charmeuse. The Organza is decorated with hand painted and embroidered roses and leaves. The boning channels are sewn in charmeuse and intentionally visible from the outside for a structured look.

A mermaid silhouette skirt is lined and constructed of milk jersey with an Organza overlay. It has two Organza godet inserts front and back for movement, either side of which there are hand painted flowers to tie-in with the design of the bodice, and some 3D petals and leaves. There is a long train flowing behind, which can be tied up in the evening by attaching it to the corsage, that is handmade from Organza and Charmeuse.

Finally, a knotted headband in Organza completes the look!

The structured look vs the softness of the painted elements are to reflect the strength of nature against humanity. The painted designs would be intentionally asymmetric to reflect the unpredictability of nature."

But, Vanessa is actually a bridalwear designer, with her own business in Bristol offering handmade and eco-conscious wedding garments, along with an alteration service. Find Vanessa on Instagram here @nessbridal


Neutral fabrics:

Here are the fabrics we selected as "neutrals" if you want to have a go at your own textile challenge. You can read the introduction article here. Have a go with printing, natural dyeing from food waste, fabric pens and paints, beading and embroidery... use what you have to hand, repurposed materials, explore sustainable options with your kids.

Recycled Polyester Satin

Fair Trade Undyed Cream Twill

Super Soft Milk Jersey

Organic Smooth White Muslin

Organic White Mediumweight Basket Weave Cotton

Organic White Lightweight Basket Weave Cotton

Fair Trade Black Selvedge Denim

Fair Trade White Denim

Black Organic Brushed Back Cotton Fleece

Ivory Lightweight Charmeuse Silk Satin

If you do use our fabrics, or try out a fun eco textile embellishment, do share with us on Instagram - @offset_warehouse